Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the newly appointed Congress general secretary for Uttar Pradesh East, along with brother and party president Rahul Gandhi on Monday kicked off the party’s Lok Sabha campaign in the state with a roadshow in Lucknow.
The Congress hopes to revive its social and electoral base in the state, which sends 80 members to the Lok Sabha, and is crucial for any political party or alliance to form the government in New Delhi.
The entire top brass of the Congress state unit was present at the roadshow, including Jyotiraditya Scindia, who was recently appointed as the general secretary in-charge of UP West, but the spotlight was on Vadra.
Congress’s show of strength in India’s most populous state gains significance given that it will have to take on the might of the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party alliance, besides fighting the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in a three-way electoral battle. Congress is placing its bets on Vadra, but she will face a daunting task of reviving the party’s chances in the BJP stronghold comprising high-profile constituencies such as those held by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath.
Party workers and supporters turned out in huge numbers along the roads leading to the party office from the Lucknow airport with flags and posters to welcome the Gandhi scions.
“We have appointed them as general secretaries in-charge of Uttar Pradesh because Congress started from this state and we cannot afford to be weak here. Lok Sabha elections is a target, but I have told our leadership here that we have to make sure we form the government in assembly elections. The youth, women, Dalits and backward groups, all want a Congress government," Gandhi said during his address at the end of the roadshow. He was the only one who addressed the gathering.
He reiterated the narrative of “playing on the front foot" in the state, but almost as a note of caution, added that the party needed to promote “ground level leaders and not high fliers" to strengthen its support base.
Both Vadra and Scindia are going to hold a series of meetings to fine-tune party’s strategy in the state. According to senior leaders, the key focus is going to be on selecting the right candidates for the Lok Sabha elections, and stitch up an alliance with smaller regional parties.
Priyanka makes debut on Twitter
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the Congress general secretary of UP East, has made her Twitter debut. Vadra had created her Twitter handle some time earlier this month, and the account was verified around the time she reached Lucknow on Monday. The move is being seen as a key strategy to communicate with the masses ahead of the general elections.
As of 9.30pm, she had more than 114,000 followers. Vadra, however, follows just seven accounts, including the official handle of the Congress, brother and party president Rahul Gandhi, treasurer Ahmed Patel, Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot and her younger colleagues Sachin Pilot, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Randeep Singh Surjewala.